Outdoor Fireplaces Warm Up Your Terrace

Outdoor Fireplace

A recent and interesting trend in house design is the inclusion of an outdoor fireplace. Sometimes this is a free-standing fireplace on a patio or terrace that might be a part of an outdoor kitchen arrangement. Or, if you live in the land of night time bugs like I do, your outdoor fireplace might be on a screened porch. The wonderful thing about outdoor fireplaces is how they extend the season of your outdoor living spaces while providing a charming ambiance.

It used to be that you had to build these outdoor fireplaces the old fashioned and expensive way with bricks and concrete block. Then came the advent of pre-fab fireplace units that were built from stainless steel so they could be used outdoors without rusting. This reduced the cost, but unfortunately, these units are limited in size and it’s tough to get a roaring fire in them, the kind of fire that keeps you warm even if you’re several steps away from the firebox.

Now we have a new option

There are fireplaces you can build from prefab parts. The parts are made of lightweight concrete that is made with volcanic ash and cinders. The volcanic material gives the concrete better thermal properties, letting it reflect heat more efficiently than standard masonry. Because they are a kit of manufactured parts, the cost to build them is less than traditional masonry. The very best part is that they are available in large sizes with openings up to five feet across. That will take some big logs.

The concrete blocks that make up these fireplaces are not simple 8”x8”x16” concrete blocks that have to be cut and chipped into the shape of the fireplace. These concrete blocks are manufactured in shapes that assemble “automatically” into a fireplace shape. Think Legos. Once the shell of the fireplace is assembled, any masonry facing, such as brick or stone, can be installed over it. The final result looks exactly like a traditional masonry fireplace. Just at a lower cost and with more heating efficiency.

You can find out more about them at earthcore.co and firerock.us.

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Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch

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